I must say I'm pretty stoked about being able to post today. It is a snow day here in North Carolina and for what seems like the first time this year I am caught up with work and have some free time. I'm sorry it seems like I keep disappearing, learning this new job has taken a lot of extra time. For those of you who are new to my blog, this is my first year as an elementary behavior support teacher. This means I have a classroom of students who come in and out during the day that has behavioral disorders. I've worked really hard this year at trying to find ways to engage my students. Here are some things I've done recently in the classroom that have helped it run much more smoothly.
1. More imaginative play.
My students love pretending to be someone different. One of my students love playing chef so we opened up a "Red Ranger Restaurant." I made some foods with sight words and numbers on them and a menu to go along with it. Every week we read a new story and make a character who then we serve in our restaurant. I will play the role of the character who is making out their order and my student will find the right word or number and cook it. We then work on adding and subtracting by figuring out the customer's total and how much change they will get when they pay. This is just one example of imaginative play but I love it because my students are engaged and they are learning multiple content areas at the same time.
Another idea I did with an older student was opening up a "Shape Shop" where the student had to serve me the polygon based on the attributes I gave.
2. Sensory Play
It took me a while to realize how much my students benefit from sensory breaks. I have used sensory bins with sand and objects inside for students to investigate. I have also done sensory science projects like in the picture below. We made Valentine's Day slime and after making it my students had to write about what would happen if their slime came to life. I found the slime recipe here.
3. Organized Independent Activities
We had another snow day earlier this year but it was a teacher workday. I decided to completely organize my back shelf which has helped me so much! I have file folder games, puzzles, sorting games, flashcards and all other activities grouped by what skill the activity focuses on. The picture below may look like just a bunch of random things, but having manipulatives grouped together has saved me so much time!
4. New Classroom Management System
At the start of the third quarter I introduced a new reward system to my students which has worked wonders! It is based on constant positive reinforcement. With my class, you never know when a student will come in and have a day when they don't even want to write their name on their paper. This is where this system comes in handy. Students earn gems for everything. Green gems have the lowest value and have to be traded into blue gems in order to be worth anything. If a student is having a rough day, I can simply say "Have a seat in the blue chair" and then give them a chair when they comply, then "Can you write your name on the paper?" and give another gem. Once they earn 5 green gems they get a blue gem which can be spent on a reward like 5 minutes of reading time or 5 minutes of coloring. They can also save up blue gems in order to get an orange gem. 3 blue gems earns an orange gem which is good for 10 minutes of iPad time, prize box or 10 minutes of playing with magnetic blocks. There is also a special gold gem that can only be earned when they have made a 90 or above on a quiz or test. Students each have a door in my room they keep their gems on until they decide to spend them. Then they put them in the treasure chest on their door for everyone to see how many gems they have earned. It may sound a little complicated at first but it has been the best reward system I've tried so far.
5. Common Curriculum
I've started using a new online lesson planner. It's called Common Curriculum and it has so many options in setting up a lesson plan template. What I like best about it is, you can search for multiple standards on the same screen and then click to import them into your lesson plan. You can also invite people to view your lesson plans and then can enter comments. This has been great for me and my assistant. She pulls up the lesson plans on her iPad and can add a comment to let me know how certain activities went with my students. In the picture below you can see that I have it colored coded by who is doing what activity. Did I mention this site is free? Check it out here.